EPF Chairman Halim Ali or the CEO Azlan Zainol should attend Monday’s public forum in Kuala Lumpur on the lowest EPF dividend in 40 years to prove that EPF’s claim to be a leader of corporate good governance and best practices in transparency is genuine and not mere lip-service
Media Conference Statement
- DAP protest over the lowest EPF dividend in 40 years at Penang EPF Office
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Wednesday): Yesterday, I had extended an official invitation to the Chairman of Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Tan Sri Abdul Halim Ali to the first public forum in the country after the shocking announcement last Friday of 4.25 per cent dividend for EPF for last year, entitled “Lowest dividend in 40 years - what is the future of EPF" to be held in Kuala Lumpur at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on Monday, 28th April 2003.
Halim Ali, or his representative such as the EPF Chief Executive Officer Azlan Zainol should attend Monday’s public forum to explain to the Malaysian public and in particular the 10.3 million EPF contributors why the EPF could not declare a higher dividend last year as compared to the 5% EPF dividend for 2001, when the country had registered a higher economic growth of 4.2 per cent last year as compared to 0.4 per cent for 2001.
Secondly, the 10.3 million EPF contributors are entitled to know how much they will have to pay from their hard-earned savings for the follies of EPF mismanagement and irresponsible investments, resulting in “paper losses” in equity running into billions and even tens of billions of ringgit?
Last year, for instance, EPF had to set aside RM2.14 billion for “paper losses” in equity when this amount, if used for the declaration of dividend, would enable a declaration of 5.43 per cent dividend instead of the declared 4.25 per cent – higher than the 5 per cent dividend for 2001.
According to previous EPF statements, EPF had made provisions totalling RM2.9 billion in the four years from 1998 to 2001 for “paper losses” in equity, which would result in the setting aside of a grand total of RM5.09 billion in the last five years from 1998 to 2002 for “paper losses” in equity, which should have gone into the declaration of higher dividends in the past five years for the EPF contributors. But what is even more shocking are recent reports that EPF is “now sitting on RM10 billion worth of paper losses”.
The EPF contributors are entitled to know what exactly are the grand total of the “paper losses” in equity which are not “paper” at all, as they have to be paid with the hard-earned life-savings of the 10.3 million EPF contributors in terms of sharply-reduced EPF dividends every year – whether it is RM10 billion or RM15 billion, and a full statement and account as to how EPF could accumulate such an astronomical sum of losses in the stock market.
Thirdly, EPF contributors want to know why the operating costs of EPF had shot up 80 per cent from RM194 million in 1998 to RM350 million in 2001, when the EPF dividend had plunged by over 26 per cent from 6.8 per cent to 5 per cent for this period – and now to an even lower 4.25 per cent for last year!
Yesterday, the EPF deputy chief executive officer (investment) Dr. Ruslan A. Ghaffar in his first of two articles in the News Straits Times on the EPF’s investment challenges, made the following four points:
Halim Ali or the EPF Chief Executive Officer Azlan Zainol should attend Monday’s public forum in Kuala Lumpur on the lowest EPF dividend in 40 years to prove that EPF’s claim to be a leader of corporate good governance and best practices in transparency is genuine and not mere lip-service. If they shy away from attending the forum, then they should stop talking about aspiring to higher standards of corporate governance, financial reporting, transparency, best practices, etc.
Invitation has also been sent to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in his capacity as Acting Finance Minister, to Monday’s public forum on the lowest EPF dividend in 40 years, as under the law, the Finance Minister is the final approving authority for the dividend declared by EPF.
If Abdullah is unable to attend, he should send his representative to the forum, whether the second Finance Minister, Datuk Jamaludin Jarjis or Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Shafie Salleh to explain why the 4.25 per cent EPF dividend was the “best in the circumstances” and a higher dividend could not have been declared.
On Monday, the Penang Yang di Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas launched a new book on Abdullah, Pak Lah – A Sense of Accountability, An Insight into Effective Stewardship by Datuk Dr. Ismail Noor.
This is a very expensive book, which costs RM150 and is published by Utusan Publications Bhd. The author, Ismail, said the title of the book reflected one of Abdullah’s strongest traits – accountability.
Abdullah should ensure that the new book on him had been properly titled and focused by giving meaning to the important principle of accountability by either attending himself or sending a representative to the public forum on the lowest dividend for EPF contributors in 40 years.
Among the speakers at the public forum on “Lowest dividend in 40 years - what is the future of EPF", which is open to the public and in particular the EPF contributors, are trade unionists, consumer advocates and economists including:
Invitations have also been extended to other trade union representatives on the EPF Board, such as MTUC President Senator Datuk Zainal Rampak and MTUC Deputy President Mohamed Shafie BP Mammal to be panelists at the forum.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman